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Signposts: Daily Devotions

Written by William A. Kolb

Saturday, October 9

Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them.
—Matthew 18: 1-3

There is within each of us what I call a “God-shaped hole.” It needs to be filled with God. We often try to fill it with diversions, with entertainment, with food, drugs, alcohol. With business, with power, with “success” in the world. 

But if it is truly a God-shaped hole, only God can fill it. To try to fill it with something else is like trying to run your car on a tank filled with vinegar. It won’t work.

Service to others fills the hole. Many counselors suggest that when we are depressed, one thing that can help is to focus outside of ourselves on others, especially the needs of others. Sometimes my wife and I call on people in our parish who are elderly and/or sick, perhaps hospitalized. Nothing does as much good for our spirits and the sense of purpose and meaning in our lives.

One of Mahatma Gandhi's famous quotes is, “You must be the change you want to see in the world.” Gandhi was a British-educated lawyer and native of India who left law and became an ascetic. He fasted, prayed and, using non-violent protest, was successful after many years in leading the way to India’s independence from England.

The way for us to be part of the solution in this broken and hurting world is to use our God-given gifts in service to others. We need first to identify our gifts, which God gives us to use as a way to be his arms, legs, mouth, and heart in the world. 

Those things that you enjoy doing, that come naturally (especially if you see others having a harder time doing them), and which can be of service to others are “gifts.” Examples are public speaking, hospitality, ministering to the sick, and listening to those who need someone to talk to.

You may also have gifts that enable you to do “big” things, as did Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Abraham Lincoln. Most of us have gifts that, though they make a difference in the world, will never be touted in the headlines. They are, nonetheless, very important. God gave them to us for a reason.

To use them.

Lord, lead me to fill my soul with the knowledge that I have served you by serving others. Amen.

These Signposts originally appeared on explorefaith in 2006.